US Gas Output Mostly Escapes Hurricane
US gas production is largely resilient to hurricanes now that so much production is onshore, said the Energy Information Administration in its weekly report September 14. In 2001, more than a quarter of US output came from offshore in the Gulf of Mexico but last year it was down to 4% of the total.
From August 24–September 4 2017, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement within the Department of the Interior said that Gulf of Mexico shut-ins, or reduced production of offshore natural gas, averaged 544mn ft³/d, reaching a maximum of 835mn ft³/d on August 26.
Hurricane Harvey mostly affected onshore natural gas production in southern Texas, such as Eagle Ford, where only 20% of daily production kept going.
Regional demand was also down though, as there were power outages and lower temperatures, pushing electricity demand lower than the typical levels in the Gulf region. On some days after the storm, a combination of outages and lower temperatures saw hourly loads go below the previous five-year lows for Texas’s most affected zones, such as in Houston where demand fell by as much as half on days following the hurricane. As Hurricane Harvey made landfall, power generation demand for gas in that state fell below the 2011–15 lows. This sector has continued to decrease even with power restorations as temperatures have remained lower than seasonal averages, said the EIA.
Natural gas demand in the industrial sector in Texas was affected as well, as plants were shut down on August 25, restarting in early September.
US exports of natural gas were disrupted however. On August 28 the US Coast Guard closed Sabine Pass and for days after, no LNG tankers could leave, however this situation changed and by the second weekend of September the first vessel was loading and six others were near the port waiting for a loading window.
Pipeline flows from Texas to Mexico fell more than 60% compared to the prior week on the day Hurricane Harvey made landfall according to S&P Global Platts. At least part of this decrease was because two compressor stations shut down on the Tennessee Gas line in South Texas as employees were evacuated according to Bloomberg. As of September 11, pipeline flows had returned to pre-hurricane levels, the EIA reported.
In the Caribbean, AES has told NGW that its LNG import facility and adjacent power plant in the Dominican Republic were not impacted by Hurricane Irma a week ago, with all working normally.
Update September 18: The EcoElectrica LNG import terminal on the US territory of Puerto Rico "did not suffer any damage from Hurricane Irma and is working normally", its majority shareholder Spain's Gas Natural told NGW on September 17 following NGW enquiries in the past week to GN and to EcoElectrica, which has operated since 2000. The Caribbean island's electricity supply was however disrupted.
Now though Puerto Rico risks being hit by Hurricane Maria on September 20, say meteorologists, after it was largely spared Irma's force September 6. Maria could be a category 4 or 5 hurricane; the last time one that powerful struck the island was in 1928.